If Tuscany with its moderately large estates and Renaissance villas and castles may be found to be reminiscent of Bordeaux, Piedmont, bespeckled with microscopic properties whose average vineyard is no larger than two acres, is unquestionably more akin to Burgundy. And just as all the regions above have their own predominant varietal, so does Piedmont. For although the Dolcetto grape is responsible for delightfully fresh and fragrant wines; and largely thanks to the producers I collaborate with, the Barbera grape has regained its status as a very fine varietal; and while in Moscato d’Asti we have one of the world’s most appealing aromatic dessert wines; unquestionably the Nebbiolo varietal - responsible for Barolo and Barbaresco and concurring largely in the makeup of many other fine wines - is king in Piedmont.
At their best, Barolo and Barbaresco can match any wine the world over, and Piedmont’s reputation as the greatest red wine region of Italy largely stems from these oenological masterpieces. Yet in the not too distant past these wines suffered a loss in popularity easily measurable by the ignorance that surrounded them both in Italy and abroad.
This has been largely due to the vast amounts of wine on the market that have not delivered what their reputation promised. Moreover, the obvious diversity between wines produced in virtually adjacent vineyards has naturally generated confusion with the consumer. Clearly, legislative seriousness is demanded here, where very small, but highly diversified microclimates cry out for a cru classification.
Furthermore, improper winemaking coupled to the general unavailability of qualified information has led to the recklessly widespread myth that Barolo and Barbaresco are wines packed with hard tannins, virtually undrinkable before a 10 year aging period, whereas it is largely untrue that longer aging is required of a fine Barbaresco or Barolo than it is of a fine Bordeaux. If this myth has been at least in part dispelled and if the demanding wine drinker is requesting the wines of Piedmont more and more, no small thanks is due to the producers with whom I have worked for over three decades, for unquestionably it was they and few others that pioneered and paved the way to quality for all to try and follow.
That Piedmont’s climate is more tasking on red wines than any other in Italy, and that inevitably great vintages are usually less common than one would like them to be - this is true and must be admitted. But it is certainly no more problematic than the climates of Bordeaux or Burgundy.
Accordingly, without exceptional crus backed by very talented winemakers, demanding world class wines from Piedmont would be asking too much. But both of these we have, and my selection stands as proof: ever since I started my selection, nearly every year at least one new producer from Piedmont irresistibly crept in. These are talented men who have dedicated themselves, mind and body, to produce the greatest wines possible. Most of them have very small properties, but all have the finest crus, the will and the drive, the pride and the capacity.
Each estate that you will find described here represents, vintage after vintage, the finest effort from each respective cru. Over three decades ago, when I first started my selections, these estates were virtually unknown. More often than not, these estates were ridiculed for employing simple yet unheard of, and certainly unorthodox, techniques of vinification.
Today, all the estates of my selection are known the world over for their splendid wines, valued as the finest expression of their kind. Together they embrace many of the great crus of Piedmont in all their rich diversity. Their wines are in all ways outstanding, yet in all ways fascinatingly and remarkably different.